Book Review: Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life

Ellen Forney’s book, Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life.

Ellen Forney’s self-help book, Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life is everything this blog aspires to be. With clean-lined, funny art pieces and truly brilliant advice, Forney’s book is easy to read and will be one of the staples in my repertoire. I highly recommend reading it.

Forney’s primary goal is to encourage and instruct people who suffer from bipolar disorder to obtain and then maintain stability. She clearly loves people, and wants them to succeed. Her best advice comes in the form of an acryonym: SMEDMERTS, which stands for Sleep, Meds, Eat, Doctor, Meditation*Mindfulness, Exercise, Routine, Tools, and Support. Using this acronym as a basis, Forney explains which doctors are out there and how to pay for one, how to get to sleep and stay asleep, and how to manage your meds. She also offers an entire chapter of coping tools, as well as a chapter on “the danger zone,” where she offers advice about how to recognize your warning signs when sliding into an episode.

Forney’s acronym, SMEDMERTS, which stands for Sleep, Meds, Eat, Doctor, Meditation*Mindfulness, Exercise, Routine, Tools, and Support. Taken by Cassandra Stout and protected under a Creative Commons license.

Forney’s real talent lies in the unassuming artwork. This book is so much more than a list of to-dos. The art makes reading fun, and the information easy to digest. Each picture is clearly crafted to elicit a smile from the reader. The cover (pictured above) features the title in large, bold text, and an overwhelmed smiley face with a tongue sticking out. My toddler delighted in mimicking the emoticon, complete with sound effects.

Overall, I would rate Rock Steady a ten out of ten.

Author: Cassandra Stout

Freelance writer Cassandra Stout blogs weekly at the award-winning Bipolar Parent, a comprehensive resource for parents with mental illnesses. She also blogs monthly at the International Bipolar Foundation website ( Her work has been published in the anthology, How the Light Gets In. Cassandra holds degrees from the University of Arizona in Creative Writing and Journalism. She has been a judge for the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association literary contest for nine years, where her memoir, Committed, recently placed as a finalist. She balances her literary work with raising her children, feeding her cat, and managing her bipolar disorder.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life”

  1. I’m coming back to the blogosphere, Cass! (I’m not back to writing posts yet – I’m just reading blogs again!) I never stopped reading Kitt’s blog as she has been a personal friend IRL for years.

    I cut down on the # of total people I followed on Twitter but I’m upping that amount since my jaw finally healed and I have more energy & focus.

    I wondred if you ever checked out my friend Samina Raza’s blog Bipolar 1. Her style/approach reminds me of yours in some ways – she’s also a brilliant writer, she has bipolar, and she shares cutting-edge info. She’s a molecular biologist & very analytical. I think you’d like her blog. The URL is:

    Finally, let me know if you’d like a PDF of “Birth of a New Brain” -but no pressure. If you’d like it, please email me at

    Hope this finds you doing well and see you here & on Twitter! 🙂


    1. Dear Dyane,
      I’m so glad to hear that you are easing your way back into blogging! I’ve missed your witty comments and insightful posts. I’m happy to hear that your jaw is doing better–that’s never fun!

      Thank you so much for the recommendation! I will absolutely check out Samina’s blog. And I’ve sent you an email about the PDF already–I would love to review Birth of a New Brain!

      Thanks again for commenting, and glad to hear you are back!

  2. p.s. I bought “Rock Steady” but I haven’t read it yet – I have at least 15-20 books to read on my Kindle. It’s all NetGalley’s fault!

    1. Rock Steady is a great book. I never would have found it by myself–my father bought it for me. I totally feel you about having too many books in the queue!

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